In a nutshell: The stylish set’s choice in the Canary Islands, with architecture like an exotic palace, great restaurants and enough breathing space for all.
Tenerife is known for year-round, budget-friendly holidays, but its wild west coast has swathes of craggy volcanic rock unbothered by anything other than cacti, succulents and the odd banana plantation. Here, in Guia de Isora, is where you’ll find the Ritz-Carlton, Abama: a terracotta-hued cluster of palatial, Moroccan-style buildings trimmed with serene infinity pools and manicured tropical gardens. It’s under 30 minutes’ drive from Tenerife South airport, served by several affordable flights per day, but far enough removed from the “Brits Abroad” Canaries scene many picture when they think of the island.
Far too exotic to be Europe, surely. The baking Canaries climate converges with palm trees, banana trees, hibiscus bushes and North African architecture to end up feeling more akin to Morocco or Dubai. Being a golf and spa resort, with 400+ rooms, it’s not boutique – but great care has been taken to make sure everyone has enough space to enjoy themselves. That goes for the nine food and drink venues, including multiple breakfast zones, the nine swimming pools and the sizeable hotel beach at the bottom of its clifftop setting. The Abama attracts a gym-fit, camera-ready crowd, including golf-loving older couples and plenty of young families, who love the mini motorised train to and from the beach as well as the largest Ritz Kids Club in Europe. The swish restaurants and high-end design means this is a place to dress up for dinner.
Bed and bath
Rooms may play it safe on the decor front – think soothing tones of sand, dove grey and cream to offset the bright salmon exterior of the building – but they’re cool and comfy with generous balconies and living areas. Huge sunken tubs and his and hers sinks satisfy the luxury crowd in bathrooms, while soft towelling robes and Nespresso coffee machines will delight the business crowd. Little touches such as light-up make up mirrors, mineral water in glass bottles and mosaic-tiled balcony tables all up the luxe factor.
Food and drink
This isn’t just a pretty face – the RCA has not one but two Michelin-starred restaurants to tick off during your stay. The first, two-Michelin-starred M.B, serves deluxe Basque cuisine dreamt up by Martin Berasategui – think smoked-eel and foie gras millefeuille – while the one-starred Abama Kabuki, perched at the very top of the resort’s golf course, does slick Japanese creations with a dazzling sunset view. Don’t miss cocktails beforehand in the latter. Elsewhere food is generous, healthy and pan-European – breakfast buffets have lashings of fresh juices, fruits and home-blended yoghurts as well as hot options and high-quality cheeses and meats. By evening, restaurants such as El Mirador serve grilled fish and expertly simmered Spanish rices under the clear-cut stars.
The sprawling grounds take in a par 72 golf course, clubhouse, funicular, mega lobby-bar, fashion boutiques and a koi carp pond, as well as a modest but glamorous spa. Head to the latter to soak in different-temperature plunge and whirlpools, do yoga on the garden pavilion or have an expert Espa massage. The beach is golden and softly shelving with cliffs on either side to shelter it from the wind – take the invigorating walk down the many steps to it, glide down by funicular or wait for the mini-train at cute resort bus stops. It is quite a hike around this sloping resort – a struggle for some and inbuilt fitness challenge for others – but free car and golf buggy shuttles are only ever a minute away. Outdoor gym machines mean you can work out with a sea view in the fresh air – delightful.
If you’re staying in the elite “Villa” rooms rather than the “Citadel” main building, you get access to your own swimming pool shared with a handful of other guests – since these rooms are separated into family and adults only room groups, you can choose between happy chaos and tranquil silence with only the turn of a page to bother you. Villa guests also get free cava, beer or wine by the pool, as well as complimentary sunscreen.
Nuts and bolts
Room count: 459
Freebies: Free shuttles around the resort; breakfast in La Veranda or El Mirador; welcome cocktail or soft drinks.
Extra charges: N/A
Disability access: It has accessible rooms, though only two.
Pet policy: Pets are welcome and even enjoy their own “pet garden”.
Best thing: The design and sheer space.
Worst thing: Having to plan a substantial walk or book a buggy for trips across the grounds slightly kills the spontaneity.
Perfect for: Parents who want some bling with their bucket’n’spade break; golf fans; digital nomads (this wifi goes everywhere – even the beach).
Not right for: Bargain hunters.
Instagram from: The cocktail terrace at Kabuki.
Room rate: Doubles from £280 a night, B&B.